STEMists in the classroom are using the Minecraft video game to learn physics, math, history, language, team building and more! As the top-selling app on both iPads and iPhones in 2013, according to the Mirror, Minecraft continues to prove to be more than just a game. Teachers, students, boys and girls are learning STEM with Minecraft—a phenomenon all its own with over 100 million users.
What is Minecraft?
Players use building blocks, much like LEGOs, to create almost anything the imagination can think of— in a virtual world. From simple buildings to block-head animals, castles, dragons and whole cities, Minecraft fosters the creative genius in anyone who plays the game.
In Minecraft’s creative mode, your STEMists will construct buildings and worlds using building blocks, decorating blocks, tools, plants and other materials in a 3D environment. The creative mode gives the player a sense of control in an environment where there are no rules.
Players learn how to identify and work toward goals —skills that are transferable to the real world. Manipulating objects in a space to create dynamic structures, visuospatial reasoning and problem solving – often through collaboration – is another educational benefit of Minecraft. The game itself encourages working with friends to build a groovy space!
The survival mode more closely resembles a more traditional video game where players need to survive through various worlds and elements. Blending building and adventure, your STEMists will harvest their own food and build shelters with raw materials such as stone and wood. Minecraft STEMists must mine for rare materials to build more elaborate structures, and to uncover instructions to craft torches, doors, tables, shelves, and windows. These activities inspire architectural creativity as STEMists build more complicated shelters such as castles, skyscrapers, mega fortresses, complex labyrinths and more.
Your STEMists will face adventure in the mountains, swamps, forests and icy tundra, trying to mine for resources to avoid demise by the game’s “bad guys.” Parents should be aware that in the survival mode, STEMists must craft weapons to survive attacks from flame-throwing and sword-yielding characters, zombies and skeletons.
Should parents be concerned?
Minecraft can become all-consuming for STEMists, and although Minecraft can be considered educational, time limits should be set for daily play. Safety is another factor with children playing against other players they don’t know who log in to the server. Parents need to be sure their kids are educated on the possible dangers of gaming in an online forum. Gaming rules should be set by parents and followed by their STEMists.
Using Minecraft for learning
Teachers and homeschooling parents have successfully integrated Minecraft into their curricula for STEMists. Here are a few resources to check out to see how you can use Minecraft in your STEMists’ everyday learning:
Minecraft is available as a computer game for your PC, and has been developed for Xbox, iPhone, iPad and Android devices. Just like the monthly-themed Groovy Lab in a Box, Minecraft, when played according to family rules, fosters creativity through discovery and engineering design.